I'm not an expert at single parenting. In fact, some days I feel like a complete and total failure at it. But I have learned a few things over the past 4 1/2 years, so today I will share those things with you. Yup, it's another list. :-)
1. We all get along better when it is clear to my children and teens that I am the one in our family with the God-given authority. This is especially important with my teenaged son, who is bigger than I am now.
2. Our home runs more smoothly when we all take on some of the tasks involved in making a household work efficiently. To that end, everyone has chores. We all participate once a month in menu planning and grocery list making, and I generally take one or two of the kids with me to the grocery store. Not only does this take some of the pressure off me, but it is also good training for when they have homes of their own.
3. I am a much better mom when I take some time off for myself. Sometimes I need alone time; other times, I need adult time. Either way, this isn't a luxury for me, but a necessity if I am to function well as a mom.
4. Asking for help from non-family members is sometimes necessary. Gulp.
5. My mood plays a huge part in setting the tone for the day.
6. I am not a bad mom if I ask my children to stop talking to me for a short period of time unless there's an emergency. I am a mom who is trying to remain calm and sane.
7. Likewise, I am not a bad mom if I occasionally treat myself and not the kids. I have been known to go out for ice cream alone, but I try not to tell them when I do. ;-)
8. The lack of a man in the house doesn't mean that my son is automatically promoted to "man of the house." He is still my son, and I am still in charge. I cannot expect him to function in an adult male role at his age, although I can expect him to at least help with the "men's work."
9. Sometimes the "experts" are wrong. For instance, the experts say that a single parent shouldn't introduce his/her children to the person they are dating until it is a serious relationship. I suppose if I were dating around, a different man every week, that might be a good policy. But when I did date a man for a period of time before the kids met him, I lost my heart to him and then my children didn't like him. That was painful, and could've been prevented if they had met him earlier on. They don't need to know details of the relationship, but they should be able to meet someone I may eventually have a serious relationship with early on. That way, if there are objections, they can be raised and considered before I choose to allow the relationship to get serious. This is one example of "expert" advice that doesn't work for our family.
10. My children are my children. We are possibly closer than a lot of intact families. However, they are my CHILDREN, not my friends. Thus, I shouldn't confide in them about certain subjects that are not appropriate for a mom to discuss with her children.
I realize that many of these things are common sense, and many apply as well to intact families. As a single parent, though, they are even more crucial to the success of my family.
What should I add to this list? I'd love to hear your advice!